• 63°

Operation Taking Our County Back nabs 20 suspects

Men from five law enforcement agencies gathered in the confines of a double wide trailer early in the morning, collecting information before they head out on a drug round-up.

Lt. Donnie Saucier passes out packets of information to each of the five other team leaders and suggests they become familiar with each suspect’s criminal history as he briefs them on their mission.

Yesterday, six agencies assisted with a drug round up under the code name, Operation Taking Our County Back. Of the 31 suspects identified since Sheriff David Allison took office, 29 were on the list to be picked up that morning. The other two were already in custody, either with Mississippi Department of Corrections or at the Pearl River County Jail.

After each team received information on the suspects, they broke off and formed individual game plans before heading out into the cool morning air.

For the most part the operation went smoothly. Most suspects were apprehended with no resistance, if they were home. One of those gathered in did cause trouble when he escaped through the rear door of a transport van. That stunt put the operation back about two hours as officers, deputies and agents scoured the woods surrounding Hobolochitto Creek.

The 31 suspects had about 76 charges collectively among them, most of which were for sale of a controlled substance. Allison, PRC deputy Capt. Kelvin Stanford, a DEA agent, an MBN agent and two deputies were on a team set to take five suspects into custody.

The first suspect, Melvin Nixon, was home asleep when the team arrived. He took his time answering the door, and was taken into custody with relatively no resistance, save some remarks about his innocence. Team members escorted him to the patrol car as Nixon hobbled on a hurt leg. Stanford said Nixon allegedly hurt his leg with a gun shot in a Louisiana drug deal. Nixon, 30, of 114 Pat St., Carriere, was charged with sale of a controlled substance.

The second suspect was Charles Ray West, 50, of 49 C.W. Moore Rd., Carriere. Allison found him in the house with the door open watching television. Allison asked him if he was the man they were looking for. West identified himself and was charged with sale of a controlled substance.

A third suspect was not home when the team arrived at her listed address. She was later found by another team walking along Anchor Lake Road and was taken into custody, Lt. Donnie Saucier said. Lauren Broom, 25, with a listed address of 40 Old Clay Road, Carriere, was charged with sale of a controlled substance.

Charlie Speirs was home when the team arrived to collect their fourth suspect, dressed only in his boxer shorts. Speirs, 32, was taken into custody with no resistance at his home, 1294 Rock Ranch Road, and charged with sale of a controlled substance.

The only other suspect on the team’s list who was not found during the operation called an investigator and indicated he would turn himself in by lunch Wednesday.

Not all the teams were so successful. About half of the suspects the various teams set out to apprehend were not home. Some did call investigators and indicate they would turn themselves in, Saucier said.

This operation is the first of many phases the Sheriff’s Department has planned to catch drug offenders. Phase two was set into motion Tuesday, Allison said.

In all, six agencies assisted with Operation Taking Our County Back. Assisting agencies included DEA, Lamar County Sheriff’s Department, ATF, U.S. Marshal’s, MBN and the Picayune Police Department.

DEA, MBN and ATF have been working with the department since January by helping with felony drug arrests and undercover operations, Allison said. Those resources have helped the department with its budget, extra manpower and advanced equipment. Allison said he really appreciated their hard work and assistance.

Allison encourages county residents to stay out of the drug business. He said he has heard young and old people cry while in jail. Young people especially tell him that their mothers don’t want them placed in the back, with the general jail population.

“(If they) violate the law their momma can’t protect them anymore,” Tucker said.

Suspects apprehended in the roundup for sale of a controlled substance were:

Tiffany Norman, 23, who had no address but was picked up at the motel on Cooper Road; Dwayne Rush, 49, of 1801 U.S. 11 S., Lot 67; Lynn Pittman, 24, of 30 Robert Earl Road, Poplarville; Gregory Sanford, 49, 14 Sanford and Son Road; Tammy Melerine, 44, of 1801 U.S. 11 S., Lot 8; Mary Flynn, 46, of 1116 York St.; Tammy Townsend, 38, of #1 Hunt St.; Paul L. Meitzler, 53, of 1815 U.S. 11 S.; Sue Frierson, 57, 707 S. Haugh Ave.; Derrick Magee, 28, 22 Morris St. and Billy Gibson, 55, 1815 U.S. 11 S.

Deon Parker, 28, 1215 Fern Dr., turned himself in on the charge of five counts of sale of a controlled substance.

Robert Grant, 40, 12 Sealcrest Dr., was picked up for sale of a controlled substance. A search warrant was served on his residence where investigators found seven marijuana plants and prescription medication for which Grant did not have a prescription. Saucier said Grant was also charged with three felony counts of possession of a controlled substance and manufacturing marijuana.

Leonard David Sones Jr., 31, of 28 John Amaker Rd., was picked up for manufacturing marijuana. About 10 plants were recovered from his home via a search warrant.

Justin Joe Boyd, 25, 35 Mason Miller Rd., Poplarville, was charged with sale of a controlled substance and felony possession of mushrooms.

Tadarres McKee, 24, 931 Martin Luther King Blvd., was already in custody with the Mississippi Department of Corrections, but was charged with two counts of sale of a controlled substance.

Robert York, 50, no known address, was already in custody for sale of a controlled substance, but now faces an additional charge of sale of a controlled substance.

Shane LaMartina, 21, 88 Herb Lee Fred Spiers Rd., turned himself in on two counts of sale of a controlled substance. A search warrant on his home found about 30 ecstasy pills, paraphernalia and about $2,000 in cash, Saucier said.

Richard Thigpen, 27, 133 Marsha St. turned himself in early Thursday morning for two counts of sale of a controlled substance, Allison said.

Still wanted for sale of a controlled substance are Dana Harvey, 32, 138 Lilac Dr.; Chad Jacobsen, 21, 162 Eloise St., Nicholson; Kenneth Munna, 50, address unknown; Bret Boudreaux, 20, 27 Dogwood Dr., and Judith Sanford, 47, 14 Sanford and Son Rd.

Lakeith “Kiki” Rawls, 30, 206 Nina Dr., is wanted for two counts of sale of a controlled substance.

Caleb Jackson, 26, of 113 Wisteria Dr., is wanted for sale of a controlled substance, possession of controlled substance with intent to distribute and escape.

Saucier asks anyone with information about the whereabouts of any suspects or information about possible drug activity to call his office at 601-403-2515.